GUATEMALA CITY (Reuters) – Guatemala on Wednesday took delivery of its first consignment of Russian Sputnik V vaccines, with 50,000 doses arriving despite Guatemalan concerns Russia could cancel the deal after the confidential vaccine contract was leaked.
Guatemala’s government at the end of March acquired 16 million doses from Russia for $79.6 million. A week later, half the amount was paid and Russia offered to ship 100,000 doses in the last week of April, but the vaccines were delayed.
Over the weekend Guatemalan newspaper El Periodico published the contract online, prompting President Alejandro Giammattei on Tuesday to suggest in an interview that deal could be canceled due to a breach of confidentiality.
Pedro Brolo, Guatemala’s Foreign Minister, at a press conference with a Russian diplomat, said the two sides were working to resolve their differences.
“We deeply regret the leak,” Brolo said. “By publishing the contract you are risking the clauses of the same contract that could put the arrival of vaccines at risk,” said Brolo.
Larissa Plachinda, the most senior diplomat at the Russian embassy, said there would be additional conversations with the Russian Direct Investment Fund, which is responsible for exports of the COVID-19 vaccine.
“We are going to organize further negotiations with the Fund to see how we can fix this thing,” Plachinda said, calling the contract confidential.
(Reporting by Sofia Menchu; writing by Drazen Jorgic; Editing by David Gregorio)